CLEVELAND (AP) — John Means carried a no-hit bid into the seventh inning and Anthony Santander drove in a pair of runs, sending the AL East-leading Baltimore Orioles over the Cleveland Guardians 2-1 on Saturday night.
Means, a 30-year-old left-hander, was making his third start in 17 months following Tommy John surgery. Cleveland’s only hit — and lone hard-hit ball — occurred when Andrés Giménez pulled a changeup to right for a 406-foot homer.
“I felt in control, like I was locating the ball just as well as I used to,” said Means, who threw Baltimore’s most recent no-hitter on May 5, 2021, at Seattle. “You’re not as nervous in that situation when you’ve been through it before, but I left that pitch up and Giménez put a good swing on it.”
Means (1-1) allowed three baserunners in 7 1/3 innings, walking one and hitting a batter. He threw a season-high 96 pitches and struck out four after going five innings in each of his first two outings, his first big league appearances since surgery on April 27 last year.
Baltimore, which has clinched its first postseason berth since 2016, maintained a 1 1/2-game lead over second-place Tampa Bay in the division and for the best record in the AL. The Orioles have seven games remaining and hold the tiebreaker over the Rays.
“John was in control from pitch one, so we both knew he had a shot at another no-hitter,” Baltimore catcher James McCann said. “He commanded down and away to righties, and kept all their guys off-balance all night.”
Yennier Cano retired both batters he faced in the eighth, and Cionel Pérez worked the ninth for his third save in the combined one-hitter.
The Orioles extended their streak of consecutive series without being swept to 89, the third longest of all-time behind the 125 by the Cardinals from 1942-1944 and the 106 by the Giants from 1903-1905.
Santander doubled in rookie Gunnar Henderson in the first, then singled home McCann in the sixth. Giménez was the only Cleveland player to get past first base.
“Means’ fastball had some sneakiness to it and he threw his changeup to both lefties and righties, which you don’t see a lot of effectively,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said.
Cleveland starter Cal Quantrill (3-7) allowed one run, five hits and a season-high four walks in four innings. The right-hander struck out four and has a 1.95 ERA in five September outings.
The loss guaranteed that Cleveland will finish the season with a losing record for the second time in Francona’s 11 years as its manager.
Guardians catcher Bo Naylor, who bruised his right thumb Friday, was held out for precautionary reasons. Shortstop Gabriel Arias left in the fifth after being struck on the right wrist by a Means pitch.
Guardians RHP Shane Bieber is set to start the home finale Wednesday against Cincinnati, which also will be Francona’s last game as Cleveland’s manager at Progressive Field.
It could be the last home appearance for Bieber, who may be traded in the offseason. The 2020 AL Cy Young Award winner returned from a two-month stay on the injured list Friday by pitching five innings.
Orioles: RHP Félix Bautista (right ulnar collateral ligament tear) threw a bullpen session Friday with injured 1B Ryan Mountcastle standing in the batter’s box, but his postseason status remains unclear. The All-Star closer has not pitched since Aug. 25.
Guardians: LHP Logan Allen (left shoulder inflammation) was placed on the 15-day injured list, ending his season after 24 starts and 125 1/3 innings. Allen was 7-8 with a 3.81 ERA and 119 strikeouts, ranking sixth among AL rookies in victories and strikeouts.
Orioles RHP Kyle Gibson (14-9, 5.00 ERA) takes on Guardians RHP Triston McKenzie (0-1, 4.50 ERA) in the four-game series finale. McKenzie, who will be activated off the IL for his first start since June 10, has been plagued by shoulder and elbow injuries all season.
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